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Ormiston v. State

October 14, 2010


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Garland E. Burrell, Jr. United States District Judge


Defendants Ed Guam and Brenda Klutz ("Defendants") move for dismissal of the four claims in Plaintiff's complaint, under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure ("Rule") 12(b)(6), arguing that each claim fails to state a viable claim. Defendants also argue they have immunity from being exposed to liability for Plaintiff's fourth claim in which Plaintiff alleges malicious prosecution. Plaintiff failed to file an opposition or statement of non-opposition to the Defendants' motion as required by Local Rule 230(c). This failure could result in Plaintiff's counsel being issued an order to show cause regarding why counsel failed to comply with Local Rule 230(c). Plaintiff did file a request to dismiss his fourth claim on August 31, 2010, which moots the portion of Defendants' motion seeking to dismiss that claim since Plaintiff's request to dismiss his fourth claim is GRANTED. (ECF No. 28.)

I. Legal Standard

A Rule 12(b)(6) dismissal motion tests the legal sufficiency of the claims alleged in the complaint. Novarro v. Black, 250 F.3d 729, 732 (9th Cir. 2001). A pleading must contain "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief[.]" Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). The complaint must "give the defendant fair notice of what the [plaintiff's] claim is and the grounds upon which relief rests[.]" Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007).

Dismissal of a claim under Rule 12(b)(6) is appropriate only where the complaint either 1) lacks a cognizable legal theory, or 2) lacks factual allegations sufficient to support a cognizable legal theory. Balistreri v. Pacific Police Dept., 901 F.2d 696, 699 (9th Cir. 1988). To avoid dismissal, a plaintiff must allege "only enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Twombly, 550 U.S. at 547.

In deciding a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, the material allegations of the complaint are accepted as true and all reasonable inferences are drawn in favor of the plaintiff. See al-Kidd v. Ashcroft, 580 F.3d 949, 956 (9th Cir. 2009). However, conclusory statements and legal conclusions are not entitled to a presumption of truth. See Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. ----, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949-50 (2009); Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555. "In sum, for a complaint to survive a motion to dismiss, the nonconclusory 'factual content,' and reasonable inferences from that content, must be plausibly suggestive of a claim entitling the plaintiff to relief." Moss v. United States Secret Serv., 572 F.3d 962, 969 (9th Cir. 2009).

II. Factual Allegations in Plaintiff's Complaint

Plaintiff was licensed as a nursing home administrator by the State of California. (Compl. ¶ 16.) Plaintiff was operating a skilled nursing facility in Davis, California in April, 2000, when he authorized the emergency discharge of a resident because "that resident posed an immediate and substantial danger to other residents and the staff at that facility." Id. ¶¶ 16-17.

In April, 2003, "Defendants GUAM . . . and KLUTZ, acting within the scope of their respective authorities directed defendant TEDDINGTON to conduct an investigation into" Plaintiff's emergency discharge of the resident. Id. ¶ 17. Guam, "was . . . a District Administrator with the DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH SERVICES" and Klutz "was an administrator in the Licensing and Certification Branch of the DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH SERVICES." Id. ¶¶ 7, 11. "Substantial evidence and sworn court testimony was available for review to the Defendants prior to the commencement of the TEDDINGTON investigation to lead any reasonable person to conclude that the emergency discharge of the resident was justified and required[.]" Id. ¶ 18. "Defendants began the TEDDINGTON investigation for the purposes of justifying actions against the license of [Plaintiff] regardless of the true facts." Id. ¶ 19.

Plaintiff alleges if the investigation had "been fairly conducted or adequately reviewed, [it] would have disclosed that there were no facts to justify any action against" his license; however, Defendants were "determined to bring an unjustified and unmeritorious administrative action against [Plaintiff] to deprive him of his Fifth Amendment property rights to his license[.]" Id. ¶ 20. "On or about August 20, 2003, Defendants authorized the commencement of an administrative complaint to be filed against" Plaintiff. Id. ¶ 21. "Defendants thereafter compounded the damage done to [Plaintiff] during the [administrative] proceeding by knowingly presenting the perjured testimony of CHARLES TEDDINGTON, with knowledge of the falsity of the testimony, and persisted in the pursuit of the action[.]" Id. An Administrative Law Judge found "the actions of [Plaintiff] were not only justified, but were required by the regulations which dictate his behavior under his license and further found that the testimony of TEDDINGTON, as the chief witness at the proceedings, was false and tainted the entire proceeding." Id.

Plaintiff alleges in his three claims that Defendants violated his "Civil Rights under Color of State Law," and conspired "to Violate his Civil Rights under Color of State Law"; and states he has the following three claims: 1) "Due Process-Liberty Interests"; 2) "Due Process-Property"; and 3) "Due Process-Liberty[.]" Id. 5:19-20, 7:7-8, 8:3-4. Specifically, Plaintiff alleges in his first claim:

Defendants, and each of them, acted in concert with each other pursuant to official policies, plans and training of their respective agencies, which are departments of STATE OF CALIFORNIA. These departments promulgated the policies and plans and conducted the training which manifests a deliberate indifference to the constitutional rights of persons lawfully practicing his or her chosen profession and, more particularly, the rights of Plaintiff.

Id. ¶ 28. Plaintiff alleges because of these acts he has suffered loss of reputation, incurred attorneys' fees rebutting the false allegations, and suffered emotional distress associated with the prosecution Defendants subjected him. Id. ¶ 29. Plaintiff alleges in his second claim that Defendants acted to deprive him of his property interest in his state granted license "by making the false statements[.]" Id. ¶¶ 33-34. Plaintiff alleges in his third claim that Defendants sought ...

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